Are You A “Reluctant Drinker?”

Dr. Todd Snyder
4 min readMar 14, 2020

The Truth About Water and Productivity

Frosty glass of water next to a person working on laptop

Would you get more done if you drank a bit more water?

A few years ago, I was reading a funny and informative book by Mary Roach called Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. It’s a book about the scientists who work behind the scenes to support the US military.

In one interview, the author was put on a treadmill so the research scientist could demonstrate his work. They monitored her exertion and subsequent rehydration. Later, they informed her that she is what they call a “reluctant drinker.”

Apparently, some of us have a natural instinct to avoid drinking much water. We just don’t feel very thirsty. As a result, we often fail to drink enough water to replenish states of mild dehydration.

I immediately knew I was in that group. My wife often asks if she can drink my nearly full cup of water at restaurants after she has finished her entire glass. As a child, I used to wonder why people took water bottles with them on long hikes.

But now, as a productivity coach, it’s no longer a passing curiosity. I need to know if it’s a problem.

The Truth About Water and Productivity

I kept hearing that drinking a full glass of water upon waking is an important productivity hack. Apparently, we become mildly dehydrated from not drinking anything while we sleep, and this impairs peak cognitive functioning.

Sometimes, simple tips like this get passed around on the internet because the tip seems to make sense, and it fits conveniently on a bullet list of productivity hacks. As soon as somebody publishes the recommendation, everyone else echoes that same advice without checking for an original source of research.

I wondered if science backs up this idea that mild dehydration affects productivity. So I did some digging, and here’s what I found.

It’s About Oxygen

According to an article published in the American Journal of Physiology, there is a scientific correlation between drinking water and productivity.

Dr. Todd Snyder

Dr. Snyder is a Psychologist and Productivity Coach working with entrepreneurs to accelerate results that matter. Learn more at